R. D. Laing: The Facts of Life

(495 words)
  • Daniel Burston (Duquesne University )
  • Gavin Miller (University of Glasgow)

The Facts of Life (1976) is widely regarded as one of Laing's weakest works. It is also quite chaotic, moving from biography, to clinical vignettes and observations from everyday life, to lengthy meditations on the heartlessness of contemporary psychiatry and child-birthing practices. But what really provoked the ire of the mental health professions was Laing's central hypothesis: namely, that neurotic conflict and psychotic delusions may be patterned on traumas suffered while an embryo or foetus. This idea is extremely speculative, though to be fair, perhaps, Laing is trying to generate a hypothesis, rather than prove its validity. “It is at least conceivable to me”, Laing testifies, “that myths, legends, …

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Burston, Daniel, Gavin Miller. "The Facts of Life". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 August 2005
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=16846, accessed 25 November 2015.]